TATTOO equipment supplier Barber has secured a multi-million pound investment as it looks to accelerate sales in Europe and the US.

Venture capitalist Enterprise Ventures (EV) has invested in the Sheffield-based medical supplies business alongside PHD Equity Partners, the private equity arm of Dow Schofield Watts.

The deal will allow Barber’s husband and wife team owners, Tony and Stephanie Crane, to realise part of their investment in the business but will also provide funding for growth.

Barber was established by Tony Crane in 1991 to sell stainless steel needles, blades and other medical consumables to the veterinary industry.

The company continues to supply veterinary wholesalers and also provides autopsy products for hospitals, mortuaries and emergency services.

However, it is body art products that now account for the bulk of its turnover. Barber supplies tattoo studios with equipment for piercings and tattoos. It has developed its own brands including Black Widow needles and gloves, Chameleon piercing aftercare products, and a range of sterile inks and needles which it sells alongside other manufacturers’ brands.

Barber mainly sells via its catalogue though it is developing its online presence and also its export trade, with sales growing rapidly in Europe and the USA.

Mr Crane said: “This is a great opportunity for the business to move onto the next level. The company has grown rapidly over the last few years and we felt this was an opportune moment to seek partners to allow us to make the most of its growth potential, particularly in overseas markets.”

Wayne Thomas, who led the deal for EV alongside Paul Betts, said: “Barber has increased its turnover every year for the past ten years and still has plenty of opportunities for further growth.”

Andy Dodd, of PHD, said: “As a market leader in the tattoo consumables and medical equipment industry, Barber is an exciting investment for PHD Equity Partners.

By Ian Briggs – The Business Desk, Editor, Yorkshire

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